Jonathan Pressment Argues in 18-B Hearings on NYC Conflict Case Assignments


18-B Hearing Centers on Conflict Case Assignments
New York Law Journal

Manhattan Acting Supreme Court Justice Anil C. Singh heard oral arguments yesterday in the fight over New York City's plan to move some 44,000 criminal-defense cases annually from private, 18-B lawyers to institutional providers such as the Legal Aid Society.

The two-hour hearing centered on County Law §722, and whether it allows the city to assign conflict cases, such as ones with multiple defendants, to institutional defenders rather than individual 18-B attorneys without input from county bar associations.

"This case comes down to a straightforward issue: whether or not the city's current budgetary issues allow the city to depart from the specific edicts of Section 722," argued Jonathan Pressment of Haynes and Boone, who appeared on behalf of the plaintiff bar groups.

"You can only do what the statute says you can do, and the statute says that if an office of conflict defender is to be created, it is not to be created by the mayor or the city," but by the county bars, Mr. Pressment said.

In addition to the New York County Lawyers' Association, the suit is being brought by the Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Richmond County bar groups. 

This article has been excerpted from New York Law Journal. For the full text, click here. 

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